When someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it may conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all need to get used to. When it comes to hearing aids, this is especially true. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that just raise the volume of sounds around you. Contemporary, high-end hearing aids use AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a form of technology that utilizes sophisticated algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. AI is able to use an algorithm to engage in a type of learning called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every individual result because the algorithm does that by itself.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal needs depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and level of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at improving your ability to hear as a result.
How can AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
At first, this may seem a bit abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. How can things be enhanced by adding AI to the mix? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with switches and dials. (You’ve most likely seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Changing these settings can provide better sound quality. AI-powered hearing aids change these digital dials and switches automatically, enhancing the way you hear without any hassle on your part.
These smart devices use a deep neural network to emulate human brain responses. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time conditions because of this.
This is the same technology that allows streaming services to suggest movies based on your viewing history, though it most likely sounds like space-aged technology at first. Newer cars use this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you utilize these devices, the more efficient they become at making correct decisions.
AI hearing aids – new advances
These days, hearing aids are incorporating several brand new advances in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the most relevant examples include the following:
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you walk into has its own distinct acoustic properties. Some of those qualities are good for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. You will hear better in almost any environment with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone locations. Cross talk, for example, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. But even in a noisy environment, you’ll be capable of hearing more clearly what the person across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Essentially, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. This then activates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was masking up, which was good, but definitely made talking with a hearing aid more challenging. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping people with hearing aids hear better and remain safe simultaneously.
Hearing aid makers and scientists are constantly innovating new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the beginning.
AI for the field of audiology
These days, AI has sort of become a bit of a buzzword. Depending on the context, AI does different things, which can occasionally cause confusion. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
First off, it means that researchers are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more beneficial to patients. This research includes new technologies, like deep neural networks and machine learning. But it isn’t just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are some things that AI will most likely do in the future.
As the technology expands and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being integrated into hearing aids not because it’s the popular new fad, unlike other industries. These machine learning algorithms provide some considerable benefits to patients. Among those benefits are the following:
- You have more control over how you hear: You can activate AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing aids. So the quality of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this often means hearing better more often.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other myriad devices can cause feedback in your hearing aids. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you will hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
- Social engagement: When it comes to dealing with social interaction, people who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids tend to be more successful, according to some studies. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide array of settings, which probably accounts for better social interaction. That said, it’s not completely clear that AI is the deciding factor in keeping your social life healthy. Most likely, it simply helps those who are already social better maintain their relationships.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you happen to fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices might be capable of detecting the significance and severity of your tumble. In some situations, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones if there is a severe fall. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
How does this impact patients?
For individuals with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often become real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a discussion at a party. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. This isn’t useful because the conversation you actually care about will get overpowered by background noise. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be able to identify and boost a person’s voice while lowering undesired noise.
AI learns to identify sounds and generates a location-by-location algorithm. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can initiate these algorithms. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with day-to-day sounds in order to better define and amplify important sounds.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- Your brain will experience a decreased cognitive burden.
- Your quality of life will get better.
You will be able to hang out with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Cost vs. reward
There was a time when AI was not available in most hearing aids due to the costs involved. An algorithm is, after all, an intricate math equation. However, partially because of the preponderance of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices are beginning to go down.
That isn’t saying that those hearing aids will definitely come down in price soon and you still may wind up choosing a model that doesn’t have AI functionality. Obviously, patients will still have to make important choices. But AI functions are becoming more widely obtainable and common.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be overkill for someone who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. To somebody who is socially active and finds themselves in conditions with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
For someone who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social situations, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. Social situations are simpler and the user will feel less tired with AI hearing aids. When the doorbell rings, or when you have a fall AI technology can alert you or a loved one and it can even track your steps. As technology and AI improve, hearing aids will continue to as well.
How can AI technology help you? Schedule an appointment with us right away.